Some entrepreneurs and private enterprises chose to focus on long-term sustainability and health of the people and planet over short-term profits. They willfully dodged single-use plastic in their products and packaging and Oceana helped them record the volume of waste avoided from their combined efforts for the protection of our environment.
#DiNaSingle enterprises composed of Akbayanihan, Back to Basics, Eco Shift, Katha, Lush, and Balay Qubo and The Bamboo Company avoided a total of 1,055,098 single-use plastic in November to December 2020. Oceana and these enterprises installed a monitor in their stores, online or otherwise, to count the number of plastic-free products created and sold to their customers.
“We are elated that our #DiNaSingle partners persevere in mainstreaming plastic-free alternatives and minimize packaging to reduce waste even without receiving incentives from the government. They are displaying ethical leadership in showing that business can still run without adding to the pervasive plastic litter that the world and our oceans face. We are confident that more enterprises will follow suit for the care of our environment and our children’s future,” said Gloria Estenzo Ramos, Oceana Vice President.
Oceana recently joined the dialogue of civil society and environment groups with the National Solid Waste Management Commission led by Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda. The government official vowed to release the list of non-environmentally acceptable products and packaging soon, an unperformed 20-year old mandate of the Commission which could have drastically reduced plastic pollution at the sources.
Oceana and partners from local governments, the youth, fisherfolk and other sectors including Break Free From Plastic Movement members, are calling for the ban of single-use plastics nationwide. Having single use-plastics in the list of Non-Environmentally Acceptable Products and Packaging (NEAPP) list will effectively make their production, trade and usage a prohibited act under RA 9003, Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.
The pandemic has aggravated the massive use of throw-away plastics, in the form of face masks, face shields, gloves, PPE and delivery services packaging, many of which are found in our oceans.
The Philippines is branded as among the five countries responsible for most of the plastics that end up in the ocean.
While scientists, non-government organizations and media have shown how deadly plastic can be for marine wildlife—particularly fish, dolphins, seabirds, seals, and turtles—that mistake them for food, people are also consuming seafood which ingest these microplastics. Several studies have shown traces of microplastics found in danggit, bangus, tulingan, anduhan, galunggong, maya-maya, talaba, tahong, and imbao or mangrove clam.
Oceana said plastics last for centuries, with lasting and perilous consequences for our oceans and peoples’ health.
“We have abused our natural life support systems and recklessly trashed plastics everywhere as if it is our birthright. It is high time for the Government to step in and stop the plastics pollution at the source. We are a mega-diverse country but so vulnerable to disasters and climate change. Yet these do not seem to be factored in the decision-making process.” the international non-government organization said in a statement.
Several businesses have already set off their respective zero-waste and plastic-free campaigns. However, zero waste does not happen overnight. Things and attitudes need to change including the decision-makers required to perform their mandates under RA 9003. Incentives which are provided by said law continue to be unimplemented. Despite the challenges, Oceana and the #DiNaSingle partner establishments are leading the way in taking these small steps for a plastic-free world.
January is celebrated as the Zero Waste Month and marks the 20th anniversary of the passage of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act in 2000. Oceana calls on all stakeholders to work together and help reduce the amount of plastics produced at the source and protect our oceans – now!
Frustrated by the few options available in the market for plastic-free products, The Eco Shift partners decided to launch their brand of personal care essentials with the mission to influence people to shift to plastic-free products. That happened in December 2018. Since then, the company has grown its product offerings made of hand-made and all-natural plastic-free essentials with the mission to help shape a world wherein the use of plastic becomes the exception rather than the norm.
To achieve this, The Eco Shift has engaged selling partners based all over the Philippines, all with the mission to provide plastic-free essentials that are effective and affordable to assist people to seamlessly shift into a new kind of lifestyle.
KatHa Lifestyle Store
KatHa Lifestyle Store features a carefully curated range of products: a tea library, specialty coffee, all-natural and locally handcrafted skincare, and much more. The store aims to be there to help each person transition to a more sustainable lifestyle that is suited to their pace and budget.
Just like the tienda (general store) in the olden days, Akbayanihan Ecostore offers all the basic food, cleaning, and personal hygiene products—but with a twist. Its first physical store in Tandang Sora promotes unpacked and wrapper-free food and non-food items that are locally sourced from reliable suppliers and organic producers. Customers can either bring containers to the store for refilling or swap with in-house packages. The establishment guarantees high-quality yet cheaper cooking oil, fish sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, dishwashing liquid, and laundry soaps that are locally sourced, earth friendly and reliable. These can be bought either by bulk or even smaller quantities like 100 grams or milliliters. Reusable containers can also be picked up and delivered by store representatives.
Another refillery is Back to Basics (BtB) Ecostore that offers household and personal care products without the unnecessary packaging. While other establishments were adversely affected by the Covid lockdown, this Ecostore managed to continue operations, thanks to their home delivery service system that proved simple and convenient during the pandemic. BtB offers refilling of basic household essentials like powder and liquid detergent, dishwashing liquid, fabric conditioner, and kitchen and toilet cleaner. They also carry kitchen staples like coconut cooking oil, soy sauce, vinegar, fish sauce, oyster sauce, muscovado and coco sugar, and wild forest honey.
From just a few items offered when they started in 2019, BtB now features 78 well-curated products from 17 local brands. They also pride themselves on carrying mostly local and environment-friendly products. Aside from deliveries, they also just opened their hub in Maginhawa St. in Diliman, Quezon City for drop-off and pick-up. They expect to increase online deliveries now that they partner with Drive Manila, a logistics service that supports plastic-free delivery. The founders say they have been receiving queries to replicate the system from parties in Marikina and Mandaluyong to even as far as Davao and Palawan. They can also be reached through Facebook at BTBEcostore.
The Bamboo Company
This establishment capitalizes on the multifarious ways the resilient and sustainable bamboo can be used in everyday products like toothbrush, fountain pen, mugs, tumblers, wristwatches, and even earbuds. Its unique and distinct products have been used as corporate giveaways by quite a few companies in the Philippines, among them: LBC, Food and Agriculture Organization, UNICEF, Unilab, Dell, Accenture, Volvo, and even the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
An offshoot of The Bamboo Company is Balay Qubo, which serves as a zero-waste retail store that aims to provide goods that do good for the people and the planet. This Marikina-based enterprise sells handmade, locally produced, eco-friendly, and vegan products. Started in 2017 when the sustainable living concept is still in its infancy in the Philippines, Balay Qubo now offers products from 30 brands in its store. Their suppliers are not only expected to produce; they are also taught how to make their business operations more sustainable for the long term.
While Lush is not a homegrown Philippine company, its products have been well-loved by conservation-conscious Filipino buyers who want fresh cosmetics and other natural handmade products that are 100-percent vegetarian and animal cruelty-free.
Since its establishment 19 years ago in the Philippines, Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics has pioneered beauty products like the fizzing bath ballistic, shower jellies and solid shampoo bars. It places emphasis on fresh ingredients like organic fruits and vegetables and operates a strict policy against animal testing and supports Fair Trade and Community Trade initiatives.
Lush also leads the cosmetics industry in combating over-packaging by running public awareness campaigns and developing products that can be sold ‘naked’ to the consumer without any packaging.
“Businesses should move forward with long-term commitments to meet consumer needs while propelling innovations that reduce plastic waste. The need is urgent on all fronts,” said Gloria Estenzo Ramos, Oceana Vice President.
Oceana is an international advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans. Since 2014, Oceana has been working closely with national and local government agencies, civil society, fisherfolk and other stakeholders to restore abundance of Philippine fisheries and marine resources.